The new shaky coalition is already facing its first crisis after the opposition refused to support the yearly extension of a vital security bill that has passed every year since 2003 with the support of all right-wing parties.
The Family Reunification Law, which bans Palestinians and infiltrators who marry Israelis from earning Israeli citizenship, is approved every year and will expire in the next few weeks. The bill makes it more challenging for Arabs in the Palestinian Authority or Gaza Strip to gain Israeli citizenship for terror purposes through bogus marriages.
The law was passed after Palestinians who became Israeli citizens through marriage committed terror attacks or were involved in terror activities. It was not enacted as a permanent law and must be re-approved every year in order to prevent the Supreme Court from repealing it.
Not surprisingly, the Islamist Ra’am Party said they would vote against extending the bill. During a meeting of the Knesset’s Arrangements Committee, coalition chairwoman Idit Silman (Yemina) requested assistance from the Likud and Religious Zionist Party to support the bill. When they refused, she was forced to pull the bill from the committee’s agenda since there were insufficient votes for it to pass.
The bill will be brought to a vote next week but reports on Thursday said that Meretz MK Mossi Raz said that he will vote against the law “because it discriminates and imposes limitations on Arab citizens, a law that establishes whom he is permitted to love and whom not, and a law that views all Arab citizens as demographic and security threats.” The far-left Meretz has voted against the bill in the past.
Likud chairman Miki Zohar said that the Likud would vote for the bill if the coalition supports a bill supporting the legalization of new settlements in the Shomron, one of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s campaign promises. However, passing a bill legalizing settlements will face even more opposition from many of the new government’s members and will lead to an even worse coalition crisis.
Zohar later wrote on Twitter that the unity government is “simply unable to maintain the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”
“Because of the illusory composition of Bennett’s weak government, it is unable, on the third day of its existence, to pass an extension of the Family Reunification Law to prevent the naturalization of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and illegal infiltrators, something that will eliminate the Jewish state.”
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked stated on Wednesday night that the bill will be brought for a vote next week. “I can’t imagine that the opposition will harm state security in the name of political games,” she wrote on Twitter. “I’m sure they will show the required maturity and support the law. I have no doubt that the head of the opposition [Netanyahu] will fulfill his words that regarding Israeli security that “there is no opposition or coalition. In this issue, we are all one front.”
The bill will only be presented next week after it undergoes a number of reforms in the hope that Ra’am will agree to abstain from the vote rather than voting against it.
“You established a dangerous government without a drop of responsibility, including those who are opposed to Israel as a Jewish state,” Zohar responded to Shaked’s statement. “Extinguishing the fires you ignited is not one of our goals.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)